Music writer Matt Jacobson interviews pop star, actor, and activist Will Young on his campaign to stop testing on animals.
“We can get there. People hold the power and the common sense.”
Much loved British pop star, Olivier Award nominated actor and committed activist Will Young is today calling on the nation’s animal lovers to sign his new petition which demands a stop to any form of testing on animals, most specifically dogs.
Original Pop Idol Will only launched his petition last week, but it has quickly amassed more than 16,000 signatures with an aim to reach over 100,000 signatures which would make it eligible to be considered for debate in Parliament. Will’s official UK Government & Parliament petition reads;
Ban the use of dogs for testing and research purposes in the UK
Dogs display a range of emotions, and their cognitive abilities are complex and advanced. Dogs in laboratories are forced to endure not only psychological trauma due to their restrictive environment but can also undergo harmful experiments that cause pain and suffering.
In 2022, the number of dogs experimented on in Great Britain was 4,122. Most are used in regulatory procedures for testing the safety of products and devices for human medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine. An All-Party Parliamentary Group has acknowledged that 92% of drugs fail in human trials despite being tested on animals. Given the low scientific value of these experiments, combined with major advances in non-animal methods (NAMs), we believe testing on dogs should be banned, in the same way as for Great Apes since 1997.
Read and sign Will’s petition now via; https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/645885
Will hosted a panel on animal experiments at the Labour Party’s 2023 Annual Conference on Tuesday 10th October. Renowned not-for-profit British animal rights organisation Animal Aid, which campaigns peacefully against all animal abuse and promotes a cruelty free lifestyle, was one of the partners of the event. Animal Aid have written a piece about the event here.
Read Will Young’s open letter on the issue below;
It’s been an amazing week, having finally brought the issue of testing on dogs in the UK to the wider attention of the country.
I first realised dogs were being tested on for science in this country two years ago when I came across a puppy breeding facility in Cambridgeshire called MBR Acres. There, beagles are bred solely for experimentation, sold off to labs around the UK, or bled out on-site for the whole of their lives with no pain relief. I handcuffed myself to the gates of the lab to bring attention.
I then cast the net wider, setting up The Coalition Against Animal Testing, a think tank and pressure group. I met Kier Starmer and ended up speaking at the Labour Party conference and launched a petition to ask for the immediate banning of testing on dogs.
It amazes me how few people know this goes on – in fact, I’ve yet to meet anyone who does. We test on over 2700 dogs a year in the UK, yet we have far more advanced non-animal methods which are both cruelty free and recreate the human biology far more effectively than a horse, chicken, small monkey (yes, you heard right, we still test on small primates on the UK) or dog would.
When I went on Good Morning Britain, host Ed Balls even championed non-animal methods – his father is one of the scientists who spearheaded this innovation 30 years ago.
We also have tests like the forced swim test, dropping toxins into rabbits’ eyes, and LD50 which poisons groups of animals until half die. They still go on in the UK, yet people don’t know this stuff happens and it doesn’t need to. We have much better, cleaner science now.
We are a nation of animal lovers and 23 million of us own dogs and cats. I launched the petition to stop testing on dogs, and in less than 24 hours it had over 10,000 signatures.
I want to let people know what we are doing to these poor dogs and other animals in the name of science. It is now a proven fact we now have far better science that doesn’t involve animal cruelty, torture and death.
Animal tests have a 90% failure rate, non-animal tests a 90% success rate.
Please help me to get the word get out even more – I don’t just want 10,000 or 100,000 signatures, I want over one MILLION signatures and, with your help, we can let our people know what awful torture these dogs are under needlessly. We can get there. People hold the power and the common sense.
I wanted to know more about the campaign so I recently interviewed, Will Young about the success rates, the love of animals and the future to end all unfair treatment on animals.
Such a wonderful cause, ‘thank you’ for taking this forward, can I ask you what triggered the campaign?
It was during Covid and it was finding out about a puppy farm in Cambridgeshire and I was confused because I thought it was illegal – as I thought they bred beagles for testing and I thought ‘what we still test on dogs and animals!? I just disagree even more on testing on dogs and drove myself up to the gates and handcuffed myself to the gates to bring attention to it – people thought I was mad! But I felt helpless. And I live in a democracy so I have a right to peacefully protest. So it made me feel like I could do something. We all feel helpless at times with the bigger issues.
I found out more about the animal testing world and talked to people who run businesses that don’t test on animals and how the science has improved so there is no need to do so. I then looked at the failure rate and the reality is it is not saving lives and science is more advanced and we can recreate the human body with amazing results so it all started from the farm and the whistleblowers that mentioned horrific conditions. I’ve tried to get some movement within the Conservative government but I was shocked by the lack of movement or follow up by them. So I took it to a wider level and started the petition.
92% of testing on animals fails in human trials – why just concentrate on campaigning for dogs. Is it the start of a full campaign to stop testing on all animals?
Well, it was for impact and for yes running the campaign in stages. It’s a mapped out campaign, to be honest and if i was sending out pictures of me with a mouse, then no one would be interested. The shock factor really – 26 million of us have a cat or a dog so it’s a way of accessing this topic to bring it into conversation and first step on the ladder. And I’ve been talking to the Labour party about the campaign and a full ban on testing on all animals, just like what happened on cosmetics. So it’s not an ideal approach but there isn’t one really so using them as ambassadors really
2700 dogs are tested a year – those figures are shocking and frightening!
Well those dogs are dying so it’s a one way ticket really – I met one conservative person who said to me, “I’ve seen the dogs in the laboratory and they seem very happy.“ and I thought, really? how they can be happy bleeding to death, it was bizarre but thats whats we are dealing with. Not all tories but a lot of them are not interested. It’s sad because it’s not having results but some people can’t see that or believe it. It’s an area that has been forgotten.
You are seeking 100,000 signatures to take to Parliament, what are you hoping for next?
A Labour government! The Tories have a shocking record on animal welfare and even Tories have left the party because of animal rights. This was a home secretary saying that said living on the streets is a lifestyle choice, I mean, I think she might have a problem, she may have a serious problem and she’s lost the plot.
The Smiths brought out a record called Meat is Murder and as a teenager the song itself certainly raised awareness for me, when did you first become aware of the unfair and abysmal treatment of animals.
I’ve heard that record and as a child of the 80s I was slightly aware of treatment but if I’m really honest but I thought animal testing didn’t happen and I didn’t realise my household bleach is dropped into the eyes of rabbit but people see animal rights campaigners as problematic – and it raises questions for those people as it makes people feel uncomfortable. But people don’t realise that small monkeys are still tested on. So, if I’m really honest it wasn’t until a few years ago that I thought it had gone away!
Well hunting is still going on and I find that shocking animals are peaceful and loving and need our support.
Animals are made of love – we have people that just don’t like animals. And we should cherish animals, they need us.
Indeed, Will, I thank you for your time and I wish you well on the campaign and the future.
Thanks Matt and thanks for sharing the campaign